Where to begin in telling you about this spectacular Afghan wedding, with so many wonderful colors, customs, celebrations, and of course the most wonderful couple. I’ll start at the beginning of my day photographing the nearly ten-hour wedding and reception for the lovely Trisa and Faisal at the San Diego Marriott La Jolla. Afghan weddings are unique and truly very modern celebrations, and they are very beautiful.
The couple’s wedding photography began with me capturing nice detail shots of Trisa’s jewelry, flowers, and the couple’s wedding rings. I also photographed both of Trisa’s dresses. Beginning first with photos of her lovely green dress and then her white wedding dress.
In Afghan custom, Trisa would be wearing one dress for her ceremony, which is the green dress you see in this article, and then her beautiful white wedding dress for the reception afterwards. The ceremony would be held in one room of the Marriott and the reception would be in a larger ballroom. After spending some time photographing the fantastically prepared venue of these two rooms, it was time to prepare to photograph both Trisa and Faisal together in the suit and their entrance for the wedding ceremony.
I often write about ‘wedding ceremony’ photography in my articles, and that applies well to Western customs. But for Trisa and Faisal, who are Afghan and Islamic, it was a Nikah for their Afghan wedding that I photographed, and I loved every minute of capturing it. And actually reception is an understatement too, because there are so many important customs that happen at this time during an Afghan wedding, and I’ll write more about them here.
But first, the Nikah is a religious Islamic marriage ceremony in which a marriage contract is agreed upon during a gathering of the couple’s immediate family. Trisa and Faisal’s Nikah was attended to by about 100 guests and led by their Islamic clergyman, the mullah. He spoke mostly in English, with some passages in Farsi.
The Nikah was much than just deciding on a marriage agreement. The mullah spoke about marriage within the context of Islam, of course, and I have to say that his words were wonderful. The mullah translated some of the passages into common words that I’d like to share. For example, the mullah explained that Islam says a women adorns a man, not as an object but as a compliment and more, since the woman makes the man so much better. What a wonderful translation.
I’m fortunate to have listened to hundreds of wedding ceremonies during my career in wedding photography, and I can say that the words spoken during Trisa and Faisal’s Nikah transcend any religion or custom. The virtues of marriage are beautifully universal. In the accompanying photography of the Nikah you can see that I’ve captured the many wonderful elements of Trisa and Faisal’s Nikah ceremony.
Following the Nikah ceremony photography, and to give time for Trisa and Faisal to prepare for the reception and all of celebrations that it would include, I spent more time photographing in the ballroom, which was all set and ready for what was to follow. It was very important for me to photograph many details shots of the gorgeous colors and decorations that were so complimentary and traditional for the couple’s Afghan wedding. You can see in the photos some of the wonderful staging, linens, draping, and beautifully colorful flowers, all of which were created by Rose’s Flowers (858-395-1392). I also took care in photographing important items for the henna ceremony, their beautiful wedding cake, and so much more.
It was now time for me return to the couple’s suite to photograph Trisa in her wedding dress and Faisal in his suit. I forget to mention that all during this time, complete and professional videography was being conducted by Sia and his daughter. Sia’s company, Jossia Visual Productions, creates very beautiful videography, and combined with his wonderful personality, it’s no wonder he is such a respected videographer and who Trisa and Faisal’s family have had the pleasure of working with before. You’ll see a photo or two of Sia in some of the wedding photos that I’ve presented here, plus a photo of Sia and myself with Trisa and Faisal at the end of their wedding.
Now about 9pm, it was time for the couple to arrive at the ballroom for their Afghan wedding reception. Dancing was already going on inside the ballroom, encouraged with fantastic and vibrant live Afghan music by Khushal, who was singing while the other two members of the trio were also playing a range of musical instruments in Afghan tradition.
As Trisa and Faisal walked towards and into the ballroom the Quran was customarily held above their heads. All 300+ of their guests excitedly greeted the couple while everyone stood close to take photos of the couple. As they arrived at the stage, queues of guests were already forming so that I could captured their posed photos with Trisa and Faisal. Photo sessions of posing with the couple took place throughout the evening, even up until the end time of after 2am.
The stage and seating area was decorated with gorgeous, colorful bouquets and many lovely items that are an important part of an Afghan wedding. For example, the Quran was placed here, along with a bowl of henna, glasses, and juice beverage. Shortly after arriving to the stage the couple exchanged wedding rings, the ones which I photographed earlier that you can see in the photos.
About an hour afterwards it was time for the meal, which was a wonderful buffet of many traditional Afghan foods. There were several varieties of delicious rice, bread, kebab, and much more. I photographed the couple feeding each other their first bite of their meal, though they didn’t get to eat much since so many quests were still very excited to have me photograph their photos with Trisa and Faisal.
The mealtime lead into more dancing and then the beautiful presentation of girls dancing in traditional Aghan costume. As the girls entered the dance floor they first placed on the stage items for the henna ceremony and candles. Their dance was full of style and loved by everyone. All during this time, Khushal’s music was very energizing and choreographed perfectly to the events in the ballroom.
Following the girls’ dancing, it was time for the henna ceremony. Both Faisal and Trisa received markings with henna on a hand, which was then carefully wrapped. This ceremony included the couple’s heads being carefully covered with a shawl while they looked at each other in a decorated mirror and gave respect to the Quran.
After the henna ceremony, Trisa was presented with a number of beautiful jewelry. As I was photographing the jewelry, which were mostly gorgeous necklaces, I could see these gifts were given to her with such happiness. It was another special moment in their Afghan wedding, and so was Trisa’s father presenting here with two gold bracelets. Her father presented these to Trisa by tying around her waist a green ribbon that suspended the two bracelets.
More dancing came next, which gave Trisa and Faisal time to step over and up onto the platform that held their fantastic, five-tier wedding cake made by Tower Bakery in El Cajon. After the cake cutting, more dancing and posed photography with the wedding couple followed. With it now after 1:30am, near the traditional closing time for Afghan weddings, it was time for one more ceremony.
This final ceremony included cloth being held above Trisa’s head by her family, who then carefully folded, then twisted lengthwise, intertwining green ribbon. Trisa’s father then tied the white and green fabric around her waist. Trisa’s mother followed by sprinkling white pebbles over the bride. With that, Trisa and Faisal’s Nikah Afghan Wedding at the Marriott concluded.
To see the complete collection of Trisa and Faisal’s Nikah and Afghan wedding photography, please visit my San Diego Wedding Photographer Client Galleries (password required).
It was such a joy for me to have provided their Afghan wedding photography, capturing so many of the wonderful customs, colors, and joy. For more information about wedding photography, please contact me.